Celebrating scientific inquiry

By Jillian Giese, YCDS faculty member

“The measure of greatness in a scientific idea is the extent to which it stimulates thought and opens up new lines of research.” Paul Dirac

In August, advanced biology students were challenged to identify a scientific question or problem that was meaningful to them and then to investigate this problem throughout the course of the first semester. Students had the option to work individually or to choose a partner. Students began this process by brainstorming problems that impact our community. Some topics discussed were the destruction of the Great Coral Reef, test anxiety, invisible illness and the reliability of polygraph testing. Students then investigated the problem by studying scientific peer-reviewed journal articles to research what has been and is currently being studied in relation to their selected scientific problem. Based on this research, students then formulated their scientific question and designed an experiment to address this question. The students were in charge of collecting and analyzing their data using various statistical methods. Once students synthesized this data, they constructed graphs and formulated conclusions to present to the community.

On January 30th, the advanced biology students presented their projects to a panel of judges from local STEM organizations. We are grateful to the STEM leaders that volunteered their time to allow students to present and network. The panel of judges consisted of Curtis Eichelberger, a senior staff engineer from Johnson Controls, Caroline Malpass, a genetic counselor from the Ann Barshinger Cancer Center, David Zinn, a quality analyst from Aquapheonix Pharmaceuticals, Brett Miller, a Manager of Manufacturing and Process Development from TE Connectivity, Lisa Williams, a Technical solutions engineer from Spectroscientific, Vince Moley, founder of Kleancierge, and Zachary Malpass, a Physical Therapist from WellSpan. The judges spent approximately five minutes one-on-one with four to six students as the student presented their findings. The judges then interviewed the students to learn more about their project. Each student was assessed using the International Science and Engineering Fair Rubric.

After tallying the scores of the judges, the following students were awarded:  Madeline Hair earned first place with her project on The Effect of Meditation on Test Anxiety, Alex May earned second place with his project on The Effect of Inorganic and Organic Sunscreen on the Heartrate of Daphnia magna and Roth Woolley earned third place with his project on Determining the Accuracy of Eyewitness Testimonies.  It was affirming to take part in an evening to celebrate scientific inquiry and the successes of the students.